Alfred Wegener - Biography, Facts and Pictures

Wegener's explanation was that as the continents moved, theleading edge of the continent would encounter resistance and thus compress and foldupwards forming mountains near the leading edges of the drifting continents.

BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Wegener’s theory

Wegener's drift theory seemed moreplausible than land bridges connecting all of the continents.

Alfred Wegener was an early 20th ..

For the next 30 years or so, scientists paid little attentionto Wegeners's theory. In the 1960's , however, geologists discoveredthat the ocean floors had been spreading, thus influencing theshapes and sizes of the continents. This new theory, called platetectonics, provided a mechanism that made sense in physical termsto account for Wegener's idea of continental drift. Although thecontinents themselves do not drift, as Wegener proposed, he wascorrect in his thesis that Earth's surface is not fixed. He wasa man well ahead of his time whose insight went beyond safe andconventional thinking. So important is Wegener to our currentunderstainding of plate tectonics that in the 1970s a crater onthe dark side of the moon was named for him, to honor his courageand wisdom.

Alfred Wegener and Plate Tectonics

Tragically, Alfred Wegener never lived to see his ideas acceptedby the scienfific community. He perished while attempting to crossGreenland from a camp on the ice cap in the winter of 1930. Hispurpose was to learn more about atmospheric conditions in theArctic in order to beter predict world weather patterns.

Wegener's drift hypothesis also provided an alternate explanation for the formation ofmountains (orogenesis).

called Alfred Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift.

Greater understanding of theocean floor and the discoveries of features like mid-oceanic ridges, geomagnetic anomaliesparallel to the mid-oceanic ridges, and the association of island arcs and oceanictrenches occurring together and near the continental margins, suggested convection mightindeed be at work.

When German meteorologist Alfred Wegener first ..

Alfred Wegener proposed the theory of continental drift at the beginning of the 20th century. His idea was that the Earth's continents were once joined together, but gradually moved apart over millions of years. It offered an explanation of the existence of similar and rocks on continents that are far apart from each other. But it took a long time for the idea to become accepted by other scientists.

1912 the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener presented in a ..

Before Wegener developed his theory, it was thought that mountains formed because the Earth was cooling down, and in doing so contracted. This was believed to form wrinkles, or mountains, in the Earth's crust. If the idea was correct, however, mountains would be spread evenly over the Earth's surface. We know this is not the case.

Wegener, The Origins of Continents and ..

Alfred Wegener, who was educated to be a meteorologist andan Arctic climatologist, insisted that his theory was correctbecause of the evidence he saw. To support his ideas about continentaldrift, Wegener pointed to the similarities in the fossils of thesouthern continents. Fossils of the same sort from ferns and freshwaterreptiles had been found in all of the southern continents. Hesaw this as evidence that all the lands south of the equator hadonce been part of a single land mass. He argued that such land-basedlife forms could never have crossed the thousands of miles ofopen ocean that now separate these land masses. His critics scoffedbecause the physical model that Wegener proposed to explain themovement of continents did not fit what was then known about thephysics of the Earth.

Wegener proposed that the present continents were ..

Wegener also tried to explain the westward drift of theAmericas by invoking the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon, this idea was alsoquickly rejected.

What evidence is there to support Alfred Wegener’s theory ..

Wegener's inability to provide an adequate explanation of the forcesresponsible for continental drift and the prevailing belief that the earth was solid andimmovable resulted in the scientific dismissal of his theories.In 1929, about the time Wegener's ideas began to be dismissed, Arthur Holmes elaboratedon one of Wegener's many hypotheses; the idea that the mantle undergoes thermalconvection.